Malaysia Kitchen BBQ Madness with Florence Tan

When I was invited to a cooking class with Florence Tan, honestly, I had no idea who she was apart from having seen her on Poh’s Kitchen. A tireless promoter of Malaysian Nyonya cuisine, Florence Tan is a mini-dynamo of bubbling energy and personality and is a stereotypical Malaysian aunty whom I’d like to call my own. Except, you know, I’m not Malaysian.

She beckons us to come closer to the cooking station so that we can better see and hear her demonstrate her recipe for chicken satay (no peanut butter involved!). She regales us with why chicken thigh is the preferred cut of meat for satay - it’s the most active portion of the bird resulting in firmer flesh – complete with animated physical demonstration, as well as tips on how to keep a trim figure – mix things by hand in the kitchen and wiggle your arse whilst doing so!

Florence checks on each bench’s progress attentively and dotes on us like children. She marvels at the size of Australian fresh produce compared to that of Malaysia and is a laugh a minute with her stories. She retells of time shared as a six-year-old with her mother in the kitchen and being inspired to pursue a path in food and cooking. Surprisingly, she mentions having wanted to be a dentist at one stage and being discouraged from doing so due to her being left-handed.

We’re pressed for time so it’s observation only for the making of the satay sauce. Florence tells us that if she was to cover in detail the two recipes presented to us that it would take four to five hours!

The other recipe being demonstrated is otak otak, a fish mousse prepared most often grilled inside a banana leaf. Due to time constraints, we are treated to some which have been lovingly grilled by Florence earlier without the usual banana leaf packaging.

The class ends with everyone digging into a shared meal of chicken satay, pressed rice and otak otak, and with Florence encouraging us each to eat more. Would you expect any less from this Malaysian aunty? We file past her to say goodbye at the end of the evening and, after I’ve given her a peck on the cheek, she says to me, “Another kiss. Give me another kiss on the other cheek.”

Yes, Aunty, okay lah. How could I say no?

Get your Malaysian on this Saturday, 1st October, at Church Street Mall, Parramatta with Malaysia Kitchen’s BBQ Madness to kick off the 2011 Crave Sydney International Food Festival. Masterchef alumni Adam Liaw, Alvin Quah and our favourite Billy Law will be giving demonstrations along with Malaysian chefs Wanitha Tanasingam and, of course, Florence Tan. The fun runs from 9am-2pm with barbecued dishes from several of Sydney’s Malaysian restaurants.

happy eating!

Mademoiselle Délicieuse and Monsieur Poisson attended this cooking class as guests of Malaysia Kitchen and Pulse Communications at Ogilvy PR.


  1. The BBQ sounds like lots of fun, I think everyone needs an aunt like Florence

  2. What a great cooking class, so sad I missed out :( (stupid work!!!) I want an aunty like Florence!

  3. omg arent u lucky Rita... looks so fun!!

  4. Hey Phuoc, bummed I didn't get to the BBQ on Saturday due to family commitments =( And I wish my aunts were like Florence Tan!

    Hey Sara, would've liked to have seen you and gotten our hands dirty together! I think everyone may have come away just a little enamoured by Aunty Florence =p

    Hey Dolly, lots of fun especially since I've never cooked any Malaysian food before!

  5. My sister recommended this post and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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